Feb 052021
 
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Riley Dixon and Graham Gano, New York Giants (October 11, 2020)

Riley Dixon and Graham Gano – © USA TODAY Sports

It is exceptionally rare for a special teams coach to become an NFL head coach. So when John Mara hired Joe Judge as the next head coach of the New York Giants, it shocked many in the media and fanbase. However, Judge quickly won over many with his fiery inaugural press conference and the composition of his coaching staff. That initial luster began to dim after an 0-5 start, culminating with a Dallas Cowboys come-from-behind victory.

Judge and the Giants began turning it around in mid-October. Their first victory came against Washington, and was followed by two very close, heart-breaking losses to the Eagles and Buccaneers in games where the Giants also held 4th-quarter leads. Then came the high-point of the season, a 4-game winning streak against Washington, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, and Seattle. The Giants were 5-7 and remarkably still very much alive for the division title. Judge began receiving praise from all quarters.

The emotional high of soundly defeating the Seahawks was immediately dampened by a 3-game losing streak against clearly better teams. At 5-10, the Giants needed to beat the Cowboys and pray that the Eagles would upset Washington. The Giants accomplished the former, but the Eagles laid down like dogs against Washington and the 6-10 Giants missed the playoffs.

Through all of this, the irony is that the New York Giants special teams did not improve under Judge. To be fair, the special teams unit under Thomas McGaughey had actually been the strength of the team in recent years. Judge smartly decided to retain McGaughey. The team was also left scrambling when 2018 Pro Bowl/All-Pro place kicker Aldrick Rosas was cut in July after a hit-and-run arrest. The Giants decided to sign 32-year old Graham Gano who had missed 2019 with a knee injury. Unexpectedly, Gano ended up having one of the greatest seasons in franchise history as a kicker.

Overall, the Giants special teams played decently during the first half of the season, and there was a feeling that Judge, McGaughey, and the special teams unit were improving and building to a stronger second half. The reverse occurred. Against the Bengals, the Giants allowed a 103-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, a 29-yard punt return that almost cost them the game, and a fake punt conversion for a 1st down. Seattle blocked a Riley Dixon punt for a safety and Gano missed his first extra point of the season. Against Arizona, Dion Lewis fumbled away a kickoff return that set up a touchdown. Judge decided to run an odd fake field goal attempt against the Browns that failed miserably when the score was still 0-0. The Ravens hurt the Giants with both punt and kickoff returns.

Statistically, the Giants finished:

  • Field Goal Percentage: 3rd (up from 30th in 2019)
  • Kickoff Returns: 16th (down from 10th in 2019)
  • Punt Returns: 6th (down from 3rd in 2019)
  • Kickoff Coverage: 16th (down from 1st in 2019)
  • Punting: 26th (down from 23rd in 2019)
  • Punt Coverage: 21st (down from 6th in 2019)

As you can see, other than field goal percentage, the Giants were down in every other special teams category. The team was significantly worse in kickoff and punt coverage. The Giants never really replaced Cody Core, their extraordinary punt/kick coverage specialist who tore his Achilles’ tendon in training camp.

The star of the entire unit was clearly Gano. He only missed one field goal all season and was 5-of-6 from 50+ yards.

KICKERS

The Giants signed Graham Gano in August 2020. Gano had a superlative season for the Giants in 2020, converting on 31-of-32 field goal attempts (96.9 percent – second highest in team history) and 21-of-23 extra point attempts (91.3 percent). He was 5-of-6 from 50+ yards out (single-season franchise record), with a long of 55 yards. Gano converted on 30 consecutive field goals, which also was a franchise record. Thirty of his 73 kickoffs (41 percent) resulted in touchbacks. Gano spent most of his NFL career with the Washington Redskins (2009-2011) and Carolina Panthers (2012-2019). However, he missed the last four games of the 2018 season and all of the 2019 season with a knee injury. The Panthers released him in late July 2020. Gano made the Pro Bowl in 2017.

Punter Riley Dixon saw his gross (44.8 yards per punt) and net (38.8 net yards per punt) fall in 2020, with 28 of his punts being downed inside the 20-yard line and one blocked. The 6’5”, 226-pound Dixon was originally drafted in the 7th round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos. He was named to the All-Rookie team. The Giants traded with the Broncos for Dixon in April 2018, giving the Broncos a conditional 7th-round draft pick.

Ryan Santoso spent 2020 on the Giants’ Practice Squad after the team signed him in early September. Santoso was originally signed by the Detroit Lions as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2018 NFL Draft. He has spent time with the Lions (2018-2019), Montreal Alouettes (2019, 2020), and Tennessee Titans (2019). Santoso has only played in three NFL games, solely as a kickoff specialist.

LONG SNAPPERS

The Giants signed long snapper Casey Kreiter as an unrestricted free agent from the Denver Broncos in April 2020. The 6’1”, 250-pound Kreiter was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Dallas Cowboys after the 2014 NFL Draft. After spending two camps with the Cowboys, Kreiter made the Denver Broncos in 2016. He made the Pro Bowl for his performance in 2018.

The Giants signed long snapper Carson Tinker in early September 2020. He spent the year on the team’s Practice Squad. The 6’0”, 237-pound Tinker was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Jacksonville Jaguars after the 2013 NFL Draft. He played in 69 regular-season games for the Jaguars from 2013-2018. The Jaguars cut him in March 2019 and he did not play that year.

RETURNERS

The Giants did not return a punt or kickoff for a touchdown. The leading punt returner was Jabrill Peppers, who only returned 15 punts all season, but who averaged a very respectable 12.5 yards per return and came close to breaking a couple. His long return was 20 yards. On the flip side, some of his decision-making on when and when not to field a punt was questionable.

Dion Lewis did not impress on his 24 kickoff returns, fumbling three (two of which he lost). He averaged 22.4 yards per return with a long return of 48 yards. Corey Ballentine also returned nine kickoffs before he was cut.

LEADING SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYERS SNAP COUNT PERCENTAGE

  • S Nate Ebner: 74.27%
  • LB Cam Brown: 70.87%
  • FB Eli Penny: 59.47%
  • LB Devante Downs: 57.77%
  • LB David Mayo: 46.36%
  • S/CB Julian Love: 42.96%
  • CB Corey Ballentine: 34.47%
  • TE Levine Toilolo: 34.22%
  • DL Dexter Lawrence: 33.74%
  • LB Carter Coughlin: 33.50%

Nate Ebner had a quiet year despite playing 3/4ths off all special team snaps. The Giants signed him as an unrestricted free agent from the New England Patriots in March 2020 to a 1-year, $2 million contract strictly to be a special teams stud. The leading special teams tacklers were David Mayo (8), Eli Penny (7), Cam Brown (6), and Devante Downs (6).

Jan 252021
 
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Wayne Gallman, New York Giants (November 29, 2020)

Wayne Gallman – © USA TODAY Sports

The potential trajectory of New York Giants’ 2020 season changed on September 20th. On that day, the team lost its best player, and arguably one of the top 10 players in the NFL, for the season. Many fans still don’t fully understand what a massive loss that was for the team. Saquon Barkley changes the way other teams defend an entire offense. He was the only player on the Giants who was a threat to score every time he touched the football as a runner or receiver.

Unfortunately, there is a growing group of fans who argue that Barkley was not worthy of the #2 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft based on talent alone. This is revisionist thinking. Very few were saying that after his historic rookie season where he gained over 2,000 yards on an offensive team otherwise devoid of talent, especially on the offensive line. Before we proceed further, please watch his rookie highlights. Now one can argue that a rebuilding club should not take a running back with the #2 pick, that the Giants should have traded down for more picks, or selected a position with a longer shelf life, but there is no disputing Barkley’s talent. Once he was removed from the 2020 New York Giants line-up, the entire complexion of the team’s offense changed for the worse.

The franchise seemed somewhat unprepared for the potential loss of Barkley. They did not seem enamored with the other options on the roster and immediately signed Devonta Freeman off of the street. In Week 3, Freeman, Wayne Gallman, and Dion Lewis embarrassingly carried the ball 10 times for 17 yards. The coaching staff instantly favored Freeman over Gallman. Freeman carried the ball 11 times for 33 yards in Week 4, 17 times for 60 yards in Week 5, and 18 times for 61 yards in Week 6. Then Freeman hurt his ankle early in Week 7 and was also effectively lost for the season. The Giants signed Alfred Morris off of the scrapheap and were forced to turn to Gallman, who started each of the final nine games.

Gallman’s story is a curious one. Drafted in the 4th round of the 2017 NFL Draft by Jerry Reese and Ben McAdoo, Gallman fell out of favor with Pat Shurmur and then early on with Joe Judge. But when Judge finally turned to Gallman, the 4th-year pro responded by rushing 147 times for 682 yards (4.6 yards per carry) and six touchdowns. This despite only carrying the ball more than 12 times in a game just four times and more than 18 times just once. Indeed, it seemed as if Gallman was being underutilized for much of the second half of the season.

After Gallman’s 147 carries, quarterback Daniel Jones was the second leading rusher on the team, both in terms of carries (65) and yardage (423). The over-the-hill Alfred Morris become Gallman’s primary backup, averaging six carries per game in the final nine games. He finished with 55 carries for 238 yards and one touchdown, surprisingly averaging 4.3 yards per carry. Dion Lewis served as the 3rd-down back, carrying the ball just 29 times for 115 yards and two touchdowns. Fullback Eli Penny only played in seven percent of all offensive snaps, touching the ball just eight times.

Overall, the Giants finished 19th in rushing, averaging 110.5 yards per game. The ground game was abysmal to start the season and improved markedly as the year progressed until December. No Giant had more than 28 yards rushing in the first two games and no Giant had more than 49 yards rushing in the first four games. Jones was the team’s leading rusher in four of the first seven games of the season. When the Giants ran for over 100 yards in a game, their record was 6-3. When the Giants ran for less than 100 yards, their record was 0-7, including the 0-3 stretch in December. Long story short, when the offensive line played well, the Giants were able to run the football and won football games. When the offensive line faltered, the Giants lost. Team running backs only scored nine rushing touchdowns.

One thing to keep in mind as we move forward: since Gallman, Morris, and Lewis are all now free agents, it is quite possible that none of New York’s top three running back ground gainers in 2020 will be on the roster in a few months.

THE DEVASTATING LOSS

The Giants placed Saquon Barkley on Injured Reserve in late September 2020 after he tore the ACL, partially tore the meniscus, and sprained the MCL in his right knee in Week 2. He finished the season with 19 carries for 34 yards (1.8 yards per carry) and six catches for 60 yards. The Giants drafted Barkley with the #2 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. He became only the third rookie in NFL history to accrue 2,000 yards from scrimmage and breaking a number of franchise records. He also was voted to the Pro Bowl and named “Associated Press NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year”, “FedEx Ground NFL Player of the Year”, “Pro Football Writers of America Offensive Rookie of the Year”, and “Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year.” Barkley started all 16 games, rushing 261 times for 1,307 yards (5.0 yards per carry) and 11 touchdowns. He also caught 91 passes for 721 yards and four touchdowns. Overall, Barkley led the NFL with 2,028 yards from scrimmage. Barkley also led the NFL with seven 40+ yard runs and six 50+ yard runs. The latter figure is the highest single-season total by a Giants player since the 1970 merger. All of this despite playing behind a subpar offensive line.

After that stellar rookie season, Barkley endured a forgettable sophomore season as a pro. The high ankle sprain that he suffered in Week 3 nagged him much of the remainder of the season. Playing soft and tentative at times, Barkley did not show signs of his old self until December. Nevertheless, Barkley still rushed 217 times for 1,003 yards (4.6 yards per carry) and six touchdowns. He also caught 52 passes for 438 yards and two touchdowns. Barkley is a complete three-down back who can make an impact running and catching the football. If healthy, he has an outstanding combination of size, quickness, and speed. A home-run threat every time he touches the football, Barkley has great vision, instincts, and balance. He makes defenders miss and can accelerate to full speed in a heartbeat. Barkley is big enough to run through and athletic enough to leap over tackle attempts. Barkley is a very good pass receiver who can hurt a defense down the field in the passing game. He has only fumbled the ball once in his career. His biggest negative is that he will sometimes try to do too much and dance around instead of taking what the defense gives him. Excellent intangibles. Team leader with a good work ethic. It remains to be seen if he can regain his old form after his serious 2020 knee injuries. And after two injury-plagued seasons in a row, Barkley needs to prove he can stay healthy.

THE STAND-INS

The Giants placed Devonta Freeman on Injured Reserve in November 2020 with ankle and hamstring injuries. He was also placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 List in December. The 5’8”, 206-pound Freeman was originally drafted in the 4th round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Atlanta Falcons. In six years with the Falcons, Freeman played in 77 regular-season games with 59 starts, rushing 951 times for 3,972 yards (4.2 yards per carry) and 32 touchdowns. He also caught 257 passes for 2,015 yards and 11 touchdowns. Freeman missed most of the 2018 season with knee and groin injuries. His productivity fell to 656 yards on 184 carries (3.6 yards per carry) and two touchdowns in 2019. The Falcons cut Freeman in March 2020 and the Giants signed him in late September 2020. Freeman played in five games with the Giants, starting four, and finished 2020 with 54 carries for 172 yards (3.2 yards per carry) and one touchdown. He also caught seven passes for 58 yards.

In his fourth NFL season, Wayne Gallman had his best campaign despite starting the season as an afterthought. It was only after injuries to Saquon Barkley and the newly-signed Devonta Freeman that the coaching staff turned to Gallman. He ended up playing in 15 games with 10 starts, carrying the ball 147 times for 682 yards (4.6 yards per rush) and six touchdowns. Gallman also caught 21 passes for 114 yards. Gallman was drafted in the 4th round of the 2017 NFL Draft by the Giants. As a rookie, Gallman played in 13 games with one start and carried the football 111 times for 476 yards (4.3 yards per carry). But Gallman saw his playing time drop significant during Pat Shurmur’s reign, carrying the ball only 80 times for 286 yards in 2018-2019. Gallman is a well-rounded cutback runner with decent vision, elusiveness, strength for his size, and speed. He has good hands as a receiver, but he will fumble (seven career fumbles).

The Giants signed Alfred Morris to the Practice Squad in late September 2020 and the 53-man roster in November 2020. Morris ended up playing in nine games for the Giants with no starts, carrying the ball 55 times for 238 yards (4.3 yards per rush). The 5’10”, 222-pound Morris was originally drafted in the 6th round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins. He has spent time with the Redskins (2012-2015), Dallas Cowboys (2016-2017, 2019), San Francisco 49ers (2018), and Arizona Cardinals (2019). Morris has played in 114 regular-season games with 70 starts. Morris was second-team All-Pro in 2012 and was voted to the Pro Bowl in 2013 and 2014. Nearing the end of his career, Morris has good size and power, but what movement skills he once had have clearly faded. He is not used much in the passing game.

Dion Lewis played in all 16 games for the Giants in 2020 with no starts. He finished the year with 29 carries for 115 yards (4.0 yards per carry) and two touchdowns. He also caught 19 passes for for 127 yards and one touchdown. Lewis served as the team’s primary kickoff returner, averaging 22.4 yards per return and fumbling twice. The 5’8”, 195-pound Lewis was originally drafted in the 5th round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles. Lewis has spent time with the Eagles (2011-2012), Cleveland Browns (2013), Indianapolis Colts (2014), New England Patriots (2015-2017), and Tennessee Titans (2018-2019). The Giants signed Lewis in March 2020 after he was cut by the Titans. Strictly a smaller, 3rd-down-type back, Lewis has good quickness but lacks the overall dynamism for the role he plays. He also had an issue with fumbling in 2020.

THE LONELY FULLBACK

Eli Penny was placed on Injured Reserve in early January 2021 due to an undisclosed illness. The sole fullback on the team for the past three seasons, Penny played in 14 games in 2020, rushing the ball six times for 15 yards (2.5 yards per carry) and catching two passes for 20 yards. The 6’2”, 234-pound Penny was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Cardinals after the 2016 NFL Draft. The Giants signed Penny off of the Practice Squad of the Arizona Cardinals in September 2018. He has played in 44 regular-season games for the Giants with four starts. Though Penny lacks classic fullback size, he is a well-rounded player who can block, run, and catch the football.

PRACTICE SQUAD

The Giants signed Taquan Mizzell to the Practice Squad in November 2020. The 5’10”, 185-pound Mizzell originally signed with the Baltimore Ravens as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2017 NFL Draft. He has spent time with the Ravens (2017), Chicago Bears (2017-2018), and New Orleans Saints (2019-2020). Mizzell has played in 12 regular-season games, serving as a running back, wide receiver, and kick returner.

Sandro Platzgummer was allocated to the Giants in April 2020 as part of the NFL’s International Player Pathway Program, which also allowed him to remain on the team’s Practice Squad in 2020 without counting towards the Practice Squad limit. Platzgummer played for the Swarco Raiders Tirol of the Austrian Football League.

The Giants signed Rod Smith to the Practice Squad in early September 2020 and cut him three weeks later. The 6’3”, 236-pound Smith was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Seattle Seahawks after the 2015 NFL Draft. He has spent time with the Seahawks (2015), Dallas Cowboys (2015-2018), Giants (2019), Tennessee Titans (2019), and Oakland Raiders (2019).

Jan 032021
 
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Leonard Williams, New York Giants (January 3, 2021)

Leonard Williams – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS 23 – DALLAS COWBOYS 19…
The New York Giants defeated the Dallas Cowboys 23-19 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey on Sunday afternoon. The Giants finished the 2020 regular-season with a 6-10 record (4-2 in the NFC East). If the Philadelphia Eagles defeat the Washington Football Team on Sunday night, the Giants will win the NFC East and will host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first round of the playoffs.

Leading 20-9 at the half, the Giants almost let this game slip away, including some gut-wrench moments late in the 4th quarter. But defensive lineman Leonard Williams dominated with 7 tackles, 3 sacks, 5 quarterback hits, 3 tackles for a loss, and one pass defense.

The Giants received the ball to start the game and impressively drove 78 yards in six plays to take a quick 6-0 lead (the extra point was missed). A mixture of passes from quarterback Daniel Jones and runs by running back Wayne Gallman set up a 23-yard end around by wide receiver Sterling Shepard that went for the score.

Dallas picked up two first downs on their initial drive and then were forced to punt after a 3rd-down sack by linebacker Blake Martinez. However, the Giants gave the ball right back when Gallman botched a handoff from Jones. The Cowboys recovered at the New York 27-yard line. The Giants defense held when Williams sacked quarterback Andy Dalton on 3rd-and-8 from the 14-yard line. Dallas kicked the 38-yard field goal to cut the score to 6-3.

For the next six consecutive drives (three by each team), the Giants and Cowboys struggled to move the ball. New York picked up three first downs and Dallas could not pick up one. All six of these possessions ended with punts.

Midway through the 2nd quarter, the Giants’ offense began to click into gear again. New York drove 65 yards in six plays with Jones finding Shepard for a 10-yard touchdown pass. Shepard also caught a 21-yard pass earlier on this possession. Giants 13 – Cowboys 3.

The Cowboys finally began to move the ball themselves, driving 44 yards in 10 plays to set up a 46-yard field goal. Giants 13 – Cowboys 6.

With 2:13 left on the clock before halftime, New York decided to remain aggressive. It took just four plays for the Giants to drive 75 yards, the two big gains being an 18-yard pass to Shepard, followed by a 38-yard touchdown strike to wide receiver Dante Pettis. The Giants now led 20-6 with under a minute to play. Unfortunately, the defense allowed Dallas to gain 35 yards in 45 seconds, setting up a successful 57-yard field goal as time expired.

At the half, the Giants led 20-9.

The Giants’ defense forced a three-and-out by the Cowboys to start the 3rd quarter. However, two plays later, on 2nd-and-10, a pass from Jones intended for tight Evan Engram bounced off of his hands and was intercepted at the Dallas 38-yard line. Worse, Cowboys’ momentum continued to surge as Dallas drove 62 yards in 10 plays to cut the score to 20-16. Running back Ezekiel Elliott scored from one yard out.

The Giants gained two first downs before an illegal crackback penalty called on Shepard pushed the Giants back, leading to a punt. The Cowboys then began a long, 13-play, 62-yard drive that was finally stopped by linebacker Kyler Fackrell’s 8-yard sack on 3rd-and-9 from the Giants’ 10-yard line. Nevertheless, the 36-yard field goal cut the score to the slimmest of margins early in the 4th quarter. Giants 20 – Cowboys 19.

After both teams exchanged punts, with another sack by Williams, the Giants put together a key 8-play, 48-yard possession that ended with a clutch 50-yard field goal by place kicker Graham Gano. Shepard caught another 21-yard pass from Jones on this drive. Giants 23 – Cowboys 19 with six and a half minutes left to play.

Starting at their own 25-yard line, the Cowboys began a potential game-winning, marathon, 17-play possession that took over five minutes off of the clock. All looked lost when Dallas was able to set up a 1st-and-goal from the 7-yard line. But Williams sacked Dalton for a 10-yard loss. Then on 3rd-and-goal from the 17-yard line, safety Xavier McKinney intercepted Dalton in the end zone with 1:15 left to play.

However, the game was not over and Gallman gave New York fans a huge scare when he fumbled on an 8-yard gain on 2nd-and-5. Gallman recovered the loose ball at the New York 39-yard line. The Giants then knelt on the ball to run out the clock.

Daniel Jones finished the game 17-of-25 for 229 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. His leading receiver was Shepard, who caught 8 passes for 112 yards and a touchdown (he also ran for a 23-yard touchdown). No other Giants had more than two catches. Gallman carried the ball 11 times for 65 yards.

Defensively, the Giants sacked Dalton six times: Williams (3), Martinez (1), Fackrell (1), and defensive lineman Dalvin Tomlinson (1). The defense was also credited with nine tackles for losses and six pass defenses. Linebackers Martinez and Tae Crowder were each credited with 11 tackles.

Video highlights are available at Giants.com.

PRACTICE SQUAD ACTIVATIONS, INACTIVES, AND INJURY REPORT…
P Ryan Santoso was activated from the Practice Squad for this game.

Inactive for the game were WR Golden Tate (calf), OT Jackson Barton, OL Kyle Murphy, DE R.J. McIntosh, CB Madre Harper, and P Ryan Santoso.

The Giants reported no injuries from the game.

POST-GAME REACTION…
Transcripts and video clips of post-game media sessions with Head Coach Joe Judge and the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

POST-GAME NOTES…
If the finish in first place, they will be the first six-win playoff team in NFL history.

The Giants ended a seven-game losing streak to Dallas. They had last defeated the Cowboys in December 2016.

The Giants won despite finishing 0-for-7 on 3rd-down conversion attempts. This is the first time the Giants won a game without converting a third down since the 1970 merger.

This was the fifth game this season in which the Giants did not allow a first half touchdown.

This was the first time in wide receiver Sterling Shepard’s 5-year pro career that he scored two times in a game.

The Giants finished the season with 40 sacks, their highest total since they had 47 in 2014. Leonard Williams led the team with 11.5 sacks, the most by a Giants’ player since Jason Pierre-Paul’s 14.5 in 2014.

Defensive lineman Dalvin Tomlinson became the first Giants defensive player to begin his career with the Giants and start each of his first 64 games in the league since the NFL went to 16 games in 1978.

Kicker Graham Gano’s 50-yard field goal with 6:27 remaining in the 4th quarter was his 30th consecutive successful attempt, a franchise record. Gano made 31-of-32 attempts this season, a .9687 percentage that is the second highest in Giants history. In 2018, Aldrick Rosas made 32-of-33 attempts, a success rate of .9696. Gano kicked his fifth field goal this season of 50 or more yards, including four against the Cowboys. That is a franchise single-season record.

ROSTER MOVES…
On Saturday, the Giants activated linebacker Kyler Fackrell and cornerback Madre Harper from Injured Reserve. To make room for these two, the team placed fullback Eli Penny (illness) on Injured Reserve and cut quarterback Joe Webb.

The Giants placed Fackrell on Injured Reserve in early December 2020 with a calf injury. Up until that point, he had played in all 11 games, starting eight, and accruing 30 tackles, three sacks, and one interception that he returned for a touchdown. Fackrell was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers. The Giants signed Fackrell an unrestricted free agent from the Packers in March 2020.

Harper was placed on Injured Reserve in mid-December with a knee injury after playing in nine games with no starts. He was signed by the Las Vegas Raiders as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2020 NFL Draft. The Giants signed Harper off of the Practice Squad of the Raiders in late September 2020.

The sole fullback on the team for the past three seasons, Penny played in 14 games in 2020, rushing the ball six times for 15 yards (2.5 yards per carry) and catching two passes for 20 yards. The 6’2”, 234-pound Penny was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Cardinals after the 2016 NFL Draft. The Giants signed Penny off of the Practice Squad of the Arizona Cardinals in September 2018. He has played in 44 regular-season games for the Giants with four starts.

The Giants signed Joe Webb to the Practice Squad and then the 53-man roster in December 2020. Webb was originally drafted in the 6th round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings. He has spent time with the Vikings (2010-2013), Carolina Panthers (2014-2016), Buffalo Bills (2017), Houston Texans (2018-2019), and Detroit Lions (2020).

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
Head Coach Joe Judge will address the media by conference call on Monday.

Dec 042020
 
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Daniel Jones, New York Giants (October 11, 2020)

Daniel Jones – © USA TODAY Sports

DECEMBER 4, 2020 NEW YORK GIANTS INJURY REPORT…
QB Daniel Jones (hamstring), WR Darius Slayton (shoulder/foot), WR Sterling Shepard (toe/shoulder), LB David Mayo (knee), LB Cam Brown (illness), and S Nate Ebner (knee) were limited in practice on Friday.

Jones is officially listed as “doubtful” for Sunday’s game against the Seattle Seahawks. Mayo is “questionable” while everyone else is expected to play.

“I thought (Jones) threw the ball well (yesterday),” said Head Coach Joe Judge. “Obviously, we didn’t want to go ahead and open him up too much yesterday, really being just a couple of days into kind of moving around. But he threw the ball well. I saw a lot of good velocity and very good accuracy. We talked in terms of how he felt on different things, different movements. But look, I think this guy is doing everything he can to get on the field. Again, we’re checking with the trainers, seeing how much progress he made on their end today. We’ll see him a little bit on the grass today in terms of how he’s with the team, and we’ll make decisions really a little bit after the (practice), and we’ll also see how he feels going out there after a long flight to Seattle.”

ALEX TANNEY SET TO REJOIN THE GIANTS…
The Giants announced on Friday that quarterback Alex Tanney is expected to rejoin the team on Saturday after clearing COVID-19 protocols. Tanney was cut by the Giants on September 5th.

The 6’3”, 208-pound Tanney was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Kansas City Chiefs after the 2012 NFL Draft. The well-traveled journeyman has spent time with the Chiefs (2012), Dallas Cowboys (2013), Cleveland Browns (2013), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2014), Tennessee Titans (2014), Buffalo Bills (2015), Indianapolis Colts (2015), and Titans again (2015–2018). The Giants signed Tanney in May 2018 after after he was cut by the Titans.

Tanney surprisingly won the back-up quarterback job to Eli Manning in 2018, but was moved to third-string in 2019, being active for only one game. Tanney has only played in two regular-season games, coming off the bench for the Titans in 2015 and the Giants in 2019.  

“We’ll take him to Seattle with us and keep him in the fold,” Head Coach Joe Judge said. “In terms of if we needed him if something happened in the last minute, activate him.”

HEAD COACH JOE JUDGE…
The transcript of Joe Judge’s press conference on Friday is available in The Corner Forum while the video is available at Giants.com.

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
There is no media availability to the New York Giants on Saturday. The team plays the Seahawks in Seattle on Sunday.

May 142020
 
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Saquon Barkley, New York Giants (December 29, 2019)

Saquon Barkley – © USA TODAY Sports

With New York Giants training camp hopefully beginning in late July, BigBlueInteractive.com (BBI) breaks down each of the team’s positional groups until the players report at Quest Diagnostics Training Center. Keep in mind that some of the players discussed may be cut as the 2020 NFL draft class signs their rookie contracts.

FIND A COMPLETE LIST OF ALL BREAKDOWNS HERE

POSITIONAL BREAKDOWN: Running Backs

2019 YEAR IN REVIEW: Coming off an incredible debut season in 2018, where he earned “Offensive Rookie of the Year” honors and led the NFL with 2,028 yards from scrimmage, much was expected of Saquon Barkley in 2019. However, his second pro season quickly became forgettable after he suffered a high-ankle sprain in Week 3. The injury caused him to miss three games and nagged him much of the remainder of the season. Playing soft and tentative at times, Barkley did not show signs of his old self until December. Nevertheless, Barkley still rushed 217 times for 1,003 yards (4.6 yards per carry) and six touchdowns behind an offensive line that did not block very well. He also caught 52 passes for 438 yards and two touchdowns.

The game that best epitomized Barkley’s frustrating season was the Week 14 contest against the Philadelphia Eagles. The Giants led 17-3 at halftime, yet the team’s offensive brain trust only called for seven runs by Barkley in the second half. Three weeks later, the Giants faced the Eagles again, this time in the Meadowlands. Barkley’s 68-yard touchdown late in the 3rd quarter tied the game at 17-17. Yet the Eagles went on to win comfortably as Barkley only touched the ball twice before the score became 34-17 in the 4th quarter. One was left with the sense that the coaching staff simply did not use Barkley to full effect.

Unbelievably, and especially when you consider the fact that Barkley missed three games and played hurt in the final 10 games, no other running back on the roster gained more than Wayne Gallman’s 110 yards. To put this in perspective, Daniel Jones rushed for 279 yards. Gallman’s stock plummeted, falling from Barkley’s primary back-up to being a healthy scratch from the game-day roster in the last five contests of the season. Gallman carried the ball only 29 times all year. Jon Hilliman only carried the ball 30 times for 91 yards. Eli Penny 15 times for 39 yards. Javorius Allen 10 times for 36 yards. In other words, all of the other backs combined only gained 276 yards, or three less than Daniel Jones (who only played 12 games).

ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS: The team decided not to re-sign unrestricted free agent Javorius Allen, but did re-sign fullback Eli Penny to a 2-year contract. Saquon Barkley, Wayne Gallman, Jon Hilliman, and practice squad fullback George Aston also return.

Newcomers include Dion Lewis (signed by Giants after he was cut by Tennessee Titans), Javon Leake (undrafted rookie free agent), and Sandro Platzgummer (Austrian from the NFL’s International Player Pathway Program).

TRAINING CAMP STORY LINES: Saquon Barkley is a generational talent. His presence on the roster had to be an immense appeal to coaches like Joe Judge, Jason Garrett, and Burton Burns, the latter coming back to coaching at the age of 67. But as we saw with Odell Beckham, talent guarantees nothing. And it is up to Judge, Garrett, and Burns to get the very best out of Barkley. Burns is an under-the-radar addition. He’s an old-school, demanding hard-ass, but running backs love playing for him.

Judge has stated numerous times that New York’s offensive game plans will change weekly depending on the opponent, to the point where he said there may be games where the Giants almost exclusively run or pass the football. Given the fact that Barkley is a superb receiving target and that Garrett had the Cowboys throw a ton to Ezekiel Elliott, Barkley should be heavily involved in any game plan. At the same time, the pressure is on all of the new offensive coaches, including offensive line coach Marc Colombo, and the blockers up front to simply give Barkley a chance to do his his thing. Too many times, Barkey was having to avoid tacklers in the backfield. Barkley also needs to touch the football, particularly in the clutch. When he does, good things happen.

There were a couple of red flags with Barkley last year. He still dances around a bit too much instead of taking what is there. And after he got hurt, Barkley looked tentative and indeed soft at times. That changed in December as his ankle got stronger. Hopefully that was only an anomaly. Other than that, Barkley is a legitimate League MVP candidate if he can stay healthy and keep his head on straight.

The other story line of camp is the depth situation behind Barkley. Gallman has not developed as hoped. Penny is more of a fullback. Hilliman didn’t impress as a rookie. The Giants added Dion Lewis, a smaller, elusive journeyman who did his best work in New England.

ON THE BUBBLE: Honestly, I don’t think anyone other than Barkley is totally safe. This is an area where the Giants may be actively scanning the waiver wire before the season starts. Given Judge’s familiarity with Lewis and his versatility as a runner, receiver, and returner, Lewis also has a good shot to make the roster.

PREDICTIONS: I’m a little bit wary of piling on the previous coaching staff, but I just don’t get the impression that they were terribly imaginative in using Saquon Barkley in the passing game (there was an odd, overreliance on the wheel route). The run blocking obviously wasn’t good either. Talent? Coaching? Scheme? Probably a combination of all three. When something worked, the Giants moved away from it, and just when you thought the opponent should be hit with a heavy dose of Barkley, he was nowhere to be seen.

On paper, Garrett, Colombo, Burns, and tight ends coach Freddie Kitchens are major upgrades in the coaching department. I think they will know how to use Barkley. I also expect Will Hernandez, Kevin Zeitler, and Nate Solder to play much better and for Andrew Thomas and possibly Shane Lemieux or Nick Gates to make an impact. Provided he stays healthy and focused, Barkley should hit the 2,000 yard mark again. He’s clearly one of the very best players in the entire League.

FINAL DEPTH CHART: Saquon Barkley, Dion Lewis, Wayne Gallman, Eli Penny

After Barkley and Lewis, this is a bit dicey. Gallman is on the bubble. Penny is replaceable. A guy like Javon Leake could easily press for a roster spot, especially given his kick return skills. Hell, a guy like Sandro Plazgummer probably couldn’t have picked a better team to compete on. My guess is Gettleman and Judge will be actively scanning the waiver wire here. Don’t be shocked to see running back a priority area next offseason. The Giants need better insurance behind Barkley.

Mar 122020
 
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Elijhaa Penny, New York Giants (October 10, 2019)

Eli Penny – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS RE-SIGN ELI PENNY…
The New York Giants have officially re-signed fullback Eli Penny. ESPN is reporting that the contract is a 2-year deal. Penny was set to become a restricted free agent. The sole fullback on the team for the past two seasons, Penny played in all 16 games in 2019, rushing the ball 15 times for 39 yards (2.6 yards per carry) and catching two passes for nine yards.

The Giants signed Penny off of the Practice Squad of the Arizona Cardinals in September 2018. He ended up playing in 14 games that season for the Giants, with three starts, carrying the ball seven times for 25 yards and catching eight passes for 50 yards. The 6’2”, 234-pound Penny was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Cardinals after the 2016 NFL Draft. Penny spent his rookie season on the Cardinals’ Practice Squad. He was active all 16 regular-season games in 2017 with no starts and finished the season with 31 carries for 124 yards and two touchdowns.

NEW YORK GIANTS CUT …
The New York Giants have waived/failed physical offensive tackle George Asafo-Adjei. The Giants drafted Asafo-Adjei in the 7th round of the 2019 NFL Draft. The team placed him on Injured Reserve in August 2019 with a concussion injury that sidelined him most of training camp and all of the preseason.

Oct 082019
 
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Jon Hilliman, New York Giants (October 6, 2019)

Jon Hilliman – © USA TODAY Sports

OCTOBER 8, 2019 NEW YORK GIANTS INJURY REPORT…
Running back Wayne Gallman (concussion) and wide receiver Sterling Shepard (concussion) did not practice on Tuesday.

“We had kind of a ‘teach tempo’ today,” said Head Coach Pat Shurmur. “We did a few things full speed, but teach tempo. The only guys that didn’t participate in anything were the two guys that are dealing with concussions.”

Running back Saquon Barkley (ankle), tight end Evan Engram (knee), and linebacker Lorenzo Carter (neck) were limited.

“I do not know if I’m playing Thursday night,” said Barkley. “There is no decision yet. I know you guys asked Coach (Shurmur), I know there are reports out there that I’m not going to play. It didn’t come from my mouth and it didn’t come from Coach Shurmur’s mouth, so I don’t know how that story happened.”

Left tackle Nate Solder (ankle), linebacker Alec Ogletree (hamstring), linebacker Tae Davis (concussion), and linebacker Josiah Tauaefa (knee) fully practiced.

“That’s the goal right now, to go out and play,” said Ogletree. “We’ll see what the coaches say and the trainers and everybody says about it, but as for right now, I was able to practice today and get better today.”

HEAD COACH PAT SHURMUR…
The transcript of Pat Shurmur’s press conference on Tuesday is available in The Corner Forum while the video is available at Giants.com.

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
There is no media availability to the New York Giants on Wednesday as the team is traveling to New England for Thursday’s game against the Patriots.

Oct 062019
 
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Sterling Shepard, New York Giants (October 6, 2019)

Sterling Shepard could not hold onto this pass in the end zone – © USA TODAY Sports

MINNESOTA VIKINGS 28 – NEW YORK GIANTS 10…
The Minnesota Vikings soundly defeated the New York Giants 28-10 on Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. With the loss, the Giants fall to 2-3 on the season.

New York entered the game with injury issues at running back and linebacker. Running back Saquon Barkley (ankle), linebacker Ryan Connelly (Injured Reserve – knee), linebacker Alec Ogletree (hamstring), linebacker Tae Davis (concussion), and linebacker Lorenzo Carter (neck) did not play. Worse, the Giants lost running back Wayne Gallman (concussion) in the 1st quarter. The Vikings were able to exploit these absences. The Vikings also both lines of scrimmage.

Minnesota took control of the game early, controlling the ball and the clock for 12 of 15 minutes in the 1st quarter, en route to an early 10-0 lead. Shoddy coverage tackling did not help. First, the Vikings drove 62  yards in 11 plays, settling for a 31-yard field goal. After the first Giants’ possession stalled at the Minnesota 39-yard line, the Vikings then embarrassingly drove 98 yards in 11 plays, with quarterback Kirk Cousins throwing a 15-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Adam Thielen on 3rd-and-4 on the first play of the second quarter, beating cornerback Grant Haley. At this point in the game, Cousins was 9-of-10 for 119 yards.

Cornerback Corey Ballentine sparked the Giants on the ensuing kickoff by returning the ball 52 yards to midfield. Five plays later, quarterback Daniel Jones threw a 35-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Darius Slayton. New York had cut the lead to 10-7.

The Vikings scored points again on their third possession, this time moving the ball 45 yards in eight plays to set up a 48-yard field goal to extend the lead to 13-7.

After the Giants punted the ball away on their third possession, the Vikings drove from their 20-yard line to the New York 24-yard line. On 2nd-and-6, running back Dalvin Cook broke off a 19-yard run, but safety Jabrill Peppers stripped him of the football at the 5-yard line. Linebacker Tuzar Skipper recovered the loose ball at the 1-yard line. However, on the very next offensive snap, running back Jon Hilliman was tackled in the end zone for a safety. The Vikings now led 15-7.

After the free kick, the Vikings extended their lead to 18-7 with a 32-yard field goal after a 9-play, 49-yard drive. Other than the fumble at the 5-yard line, Minnesota scored on their four other first-half possessions. On the other hand, New York’s five first-half possessions resulted in one touchdown, a Minnesota safety, and three punts. The Vikings held the ball for over 20 minutes in the first half.

The Giants began the third quarter with a marathon 15-play, 61-yard drive that unfortunately only resulted in a 32-yard field goal despite the Giants facing both 1st-and-goal from the 6-yard line and 1st-and-goal from the 5-yard line. That field goal represented New York’s last points of the day.

The Vikings then responded with a devastating 5-play, 67-yard drive that ended with a 9-yard touchdown from Cousins to Thielen again, this time beating cornerback Deandre Baker. Minnesota now led 25-10 with just under five minutes to go in the 3rd quarter.

New York threatened to score a touchdown again on their second drive of the half, reaching the Minnesota 3-yard line. But on 4th-and-2, Jones was sacked for a 9-yard loss at the end of the 3rd quarter.

After a three-and-out, the Giants drove into Vikings’ territory again, but turned the ball over on downs after a 4th-and-12 incomplete pass from the Minnesota 27-yard line. The Vikings then added another field goal, from 45 yards out, after gaining 46 yards on nine plays. With just over four minutes to play, the Vikings held a commanding 28-10 lead.

New York’s last possession ended on 4th-and-2 when Jones was intercepted. Minnesota then ran out the clock.

New York’s offense only gained 211 yards, 147 net passing yards and 64 net rushing yards. Worse, the Giants were 0-for-2 in the red zone. Jones completed 21-of-38 passes for 182 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. He was sacked four times for a loss of 35 yards. His leading targets were tight end Evan Engram (6 catches for 42 yards), wide receiver Sterling Shepard (5 catches for 49 yards), and Slayton (4 catches for 62 yards and a touchdown). Hilliman only gained 20 yards on nine carries.

Defensively, the Giants allowed 490 yards and 22 first downs to an offense that had been struggling. Minnesota rushed for 211 yards and Cousins completed 22-of-27 passes for 306 yards and two touchdowns. Peppers did force one fumble that Skipper recovered. Defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence, defensive lineman R.J. McIntosh, and linebacker Markus Golden also had sacks.

Video lowlights are available at Giants.com.

INACTIVES AND INJURY REPORT…
RB Saquon Barkley (ankle), LB Alec Ogletree (hamstring), LB Tae Davis (concussion), LB Lorenzo Carter (neck), QB Alex Tanney, OT Eric Smith, and OT/OG Chad Slade were inactive.

RB Wayne Gallman (concussion) left the game in the 1st quarter and did not return.

POST-GAME REACTION…
Transcripts and video clips of post-game media sessions with Head Coach Pat Shurmur and the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
Head Coach Pat Shurmur and select players will address the media on Monday. The players return to practice on Tuesday.

Jun 202019
 
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Pat Shurmur, New York Giants (May 20, 2019)

Pat Shurmur – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS 2019 TRAINING CAMP SCHEDULE ANNOUNCED…
The New York Giants have announced their 2019 training camp schedule. Only 10 practices will be open to the public. Rookies and select veterans report on July 22 and all players on July 24. The first practice will take place on July 25. All practices will be held at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, NJ.

Training Camp Schedule Open to the public:

  • Thursday, July 25: 2:45 p.m.
  • Saturday, July 27: 2:45 p.m.
  • Sunday, July 28: 2:45 p.m.
  • Tuesday, July 30: 2:45 p.m.
  • Wednesday, July 31: 2:45 p.m.
  • Friday, August 2: 2:45 p.m.
  • Tuesday, August 6: 10:45 a.m.
  • Sunday, August 11: 10:45 a.m.
  • Monday, August 12: 10:45 a.m.
  • Tuesday, August 13: 10:45 a.m.

*Schedule subject to change. For the most up-to-date information on training camp, visit Giants.com, @Giants on Twitter, the Giants App, or call the Training Camp Hotline at (201) 935-8111 (extension 1070).

Admission: There is no cost to attend practice sessions. Fans wishing to attend practice sessions must register for complimentary tickets in advance. Fans may register for up to six (6) tickets per practice session. Once registered, fans will receive their tickets via e-mail and will need to present using their mobile device to gain admittance. While registering for tickets is strongly recommended to guarantee access, fans will also be admitted on a walk-up basis, if space permits. Gates open one hour prior to the start of each practice session. Accessible seating is available and may be reserved when you secure your tickets for a practice session. Ticket Registration will open on Tuesday, July 9, 2019.

Fan Parking: Parking is free and located in Lot K on the grounds of the MetLife Sports Complex. Lot K will open for parking two hours prior to the start of practice. The parking lot will close one hour following the conclusion of practice.

Inclement Weather Policy: In the event of inclement weather (including rain, wind, thunderstorms or extreme heat), practices will be moved indoors and be closed to the public. Please check Giants.com, @Giants on Twitter, the Giants App, or call the Training Camp Hotline at (201) 935-8111 (extension 1070) prior to every practice for up-to-the-minute changes to the daily practice schedule.

For more information, including a fan Q&A, see this article on Giants.com.

ARTICLES…

Jun 172019
 
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Saquon Barkley, New York Giants (December 30, 2018)

Saquon Barkley – © USA TODAY Sports

With New York Giants training camp beginning in late July, BigBlueInteractive.com (BBI) breaks down each of the team’s positional groups until the players report at Quest Diagnostics Training Center.

FIND A COMPLETE LIST OF ALL BREAKDOWNS HERE

POSITIONAL BREAKDOWN: Running Backs

2018 YEAR IN REVIEW: The great debate during the 2018 offseason was about whether the New York Giants should draft a quarterback with the #2 overall pick or Saquon Barkley. General Manager Dave Gettleman chose the less popular option and selected Barkley. While the final determination of whether this was the right move or not cannot be determined for some time, Barkley became one of the NFL’s very best players in just his rookie season. Despite not carrying the ball more than 18 times per game in the first half of the season and running behind a subpar offensive line, Barkley rushed for 1,307 yards and 11 touchdowns. He also caught 91 passes for 721 yards and four touchdowns. Overall, Barkley led the NFL with 2,028 yards from scrimmage and led the NFL with seven 40+ yard runs and six 50+ yard runs. And he didn’t fumble once. Barkley was voted to the Pro Bowl and named “Associated Press NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year”, “FedEx Ground NFL Player of the Year”, “Pro Football Writers of America Offensive Rookie of the Year”, and “Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year.”

It was expected that ex-Panther Jonathan Stewart would be a significant contributor, but he only played in three games with six carries before ending up on Injured Reserve with a foot injury. Wayne Gallman became the team’s #2 running back, yet he only had 51 carries and 14 receptions on the year. The only other back to touch the football was fullback Elijhaa Penny, who carried the football only seven times and caught only eight passes. Third-year player Paul Perkins missed the entire season with a torn pectoral muscle. In a nutshell, it was virtually a one-man show with Barkley.

ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS: The Giants chose not to bring back Jonathan Stewart and he retired from the NFL. The team signed Rod Smith from the Cowboys in free agency and signed undrafted rookie free agent Jonathan Hilliman after the draft.

TRAINING CAMP STORY LINES: Just how good can Saquon Barkley become? Will he let early success go to his head and fade? Or will he stay grounded and humble and seek to elevate his entire team? Jeremy Shockey and Odell Beckham were two of the most impressive rookies the Giants have ever had, but their careers with the team ended with a whimper. Aside from staying healthy, the challenge for Barkley is to prove to be a difference-maker for a team that has not won a playoff game in seven seasons. A good omen is that despite a questionable supporting cast, the more Barkley touched the football in 2018, the better the team performed (four of the team’s five wins came during the second-half of the season). Barkley is a legitimate League MVP candidate. It is not out of the realm of possibility that Barkley could rush for over 2,000 yards in one season.

Oddly, the Giants basically only carried two halfbacks on the roster last year. And also oddly, the second back (Wayne Gallman) barely touched the ball. Yet, Barkley only carried the ball 16.3 times per game (catching the ball 5.7 times per game). One would assume Pat Shurmur would like to see more touches for the running back unit as a whole. But does that mean more touches for Barkley? Or does the team play it safe and try to spread out the workload to the #2 and #3 halfbacks? Will there be a #3 halfback this year? Wayne Gallman has the inside track on the #2 job, but he has to control his fumbling (five in limited carries in 2017 and 2018).

ON THE BUBBLE: No one is really safe other than Barkley. If the Giants keep a fullback on the roster, Elijhaa Penny probably makes it unless the Giants see someone better on the waiver wire. The other four backs – Wayne Gallman, Paul Perkins, Rod Smith, and Jonathan Hillman – are fighting for one or two spots. (And again, never rule out the waiver wire).

FROM THE COACHES: Head Coach Pat Shurmur on Paul Perkins: “I think he is doing a good job. He is just getting back into it. There are a lot of running backs, so he is sharing reps, but the things that he has done out there, it looks like he has good body control and he handles the ball well. I have been pleased with his route running and the few carries he has had; it appears he has good vision.”

Shurmur on Rod Smith: “I think he is a pro. He came in and he has learned our offense pretty quickly. There is less and less mistakes in each practice setting. He does a good job with the ball in his hands. He is a big presence and we all know a lot of what he does is on special teams.”

Offensive Coordinator Mike Shula on Saquon Barkley’s snap count: “I think Coach Johnson does a really good of keeping those guys fresh throughout the game. Selfishly as a coordinator and probably all the Giants fans, you want him in there every single play because you don’t ever want him to miss out on an opportunity. I think there is a happy medium to make sure he’s fresh throughout and don’t just kill him. We’ve got to keep that in mind as we put together our game plans.”

Shula on Paul Perkins: “I remember him coming out of college and I really liked him coming out of college. Last year obviously he got hurt, he spent the whole year on IR. Now he’s getting a lot of reps. He’s a guy that can do a lot of things, he can pass protect, he can run the football obviously, he’s pretty good out of the backfield. We want to have him continue getting better at all those things. You guys saw last year we don’t dress a lot of backs so the guys that are dressing have to be able to do all those things. We want them to be able to be productive on first and second down but also on third down and that would involve pass protection and catching the football.”

Running Backs Coach Craig Johnson on Wayne Gallman: “I thought he was playing at a real high level in December… He gave us a lot of explosiveness.”

Johnson on Paul Perkins: “He’s back to the Perkins I saw when he first got here.”

PREDICTIONS: Stating the obvious, this is Saquon Barkley’s team now. He’s a truly special talent. The Giants must keep him healthy and prevent too much wear-and-tear. Thus, I think even his touches in training camp will be limited and I don’t expect to see much of him in the preseason. If he stays healthy, I do expect him to challenge Tiki Barber’s franchise-record, single-season total of 1,860 yards set in 2005. He should also have over 100 receptions. And while a running back can have more of an impact on the win-loss record than a wide receiver, Walter Payton and Barry Sanders had great individual seasons on terrible teams. In other words, Barkley can elevate his team’s play, but he will need help.

I can’t see the Giants carrying more than four backs. One will be Barkley. According to reports, the quarterbacks threw a lot to fullback Elijhaa Penny during Spring workouts. A decent blocker, Penny will likely make the team unless someone more intriguing becomes available on the waiver wire. So how many other halfbacks do the Giants carry (one or two) and who? Paul Perkins finished his rookie season strong and actually started the last playoff game the Giants played in. But he regressed terribly his sophomore season. Perkins will need to rebound in order to make it. Gallman flashes as a runner and receiver, but he must protect the ball better or he could be vulnerable. Gallman and Perkins seem to be directly competing with each other for one spot. Rod Smith’s best chance is if the coaches want to keep a short yardage back to reduce wear-and-tear on Barkley. His special team ability also helps. Jonathan Hilliman is a powerful runner who appears to be directly competing with Smith in terms of the style he brings to the table.

FINAL DEPTH CHART: Saquon Barkley, Elijhaa Penny, Wayne Gallman, and Rod Smith